• Taphonomy;
  • decay;
  • human bone;
  • pseudo-pathology;
  • scanning electron microscopy;
  • Kuwait


By means of scanning electron microscopy, four out of a series of twelve inhumations from the Hellenistic Period were examined for traces of the decay process. The changes represented the result of erosion and biological decomposition of human bones on a small island in the northern part of the Persian Gulf over a period of ca. 2200 years. Special emphasis was given to bone preservation and blood cell survival, and to bone changes due to physicochemical erosion and fungus, bacterium, insect and plant-root activity. Related soil and climatic conditions were taken into consideration. The observations should be evaluated to understand the unusual state of preservation of the bones and to avoid possible misinterpretation of pseudo-pathological bone changes as ante-mortem pathology.